January 1998

Metallica - Reload
Electra 62126-1
Released: 1997

by Steven R. Rochlin

Musical Performance **1/2
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***

[Reviewed on Vinyl]First I must say a most humble thanks to my UK friend Gareth who sent me all the old Metallica stuff many months ago, like Metallica's 1983 release of Kill 'Em All, 1984's Ride the Lightning, and 1986's Master of Puppets on 45 RPM UK vinyl. If you're a true Metallica fan, may I humbly suggest that you hunt these down. With that said let's talk about their latest release, ReLoad. Wasn't too thrilled with Load, though while shopping for new music my eyes saw their new album on vinyl staring me in the face. Like a junkie looking for his next fix, I bought it. This album is possibly what happened to Rush as they became more, um, mainstream. More synthesizers, more studio effects, and more, well, production work. Is this a good thing to happen to Metallica as it did Rush? Well...maybe, maybe not. This new release, which is on the charts, should've been Load and the first Load should've almost never happened in my humble opinion. ReLoad seems to have that long-desired Metallica edge, and just one listen to "The Memory Remains" will bring this to light. As this song starts to play, I can't help but turn the volume to twelve and rock my head back and forth as Metallica's special kind of metal tunes fill the room. Unfortunately it's followed by some overproduced song called "Devil's Dance" which doesn't yank at my chain. It's as if the edge went home and now came some more refined yet untrue music to a diehard Metallica fan like me. (As I begin to scream like James Hetfield) You know it's sad but true!!! My feelings are mixed about the song "Fuel." Maybe it's a more personal thing here? Many of my friends have asked me about the song "Unforgiven II" and here's the dope on it. As Metallica fans know "Unforgiven" is the mantra many of us live during parts of our lives. "Unforgiven" is raw, slow thrash metal at some of its best! Well, "Unforgiven II" starts out just like the first version on the black 1991 self-titled album "Metallica," yet it immediately breaks into their special kind of slow full-force jam which then mellows out to something so raw and angry that I couldn't help but have the feeling of wanting to totally trash my listening room followed by destroying the rest of my humble abode. Does this make sense? You Metallica fans know where it's at here.

"What I've felt, what I've known
Sick and tired, I stand alone
Could you be there, 'cause I'm the one who waits for you
Or are you unforgiven too?"
--- "Unforgiven II"

Y E A H ! ! !  Ok, so some of this album is hit n' miss, yet my life would kind of feel incomplete without it. The vinyl is fairly quiet, and my pressing is flat. It's a gatefold two-record set and would fit nicely in any Metallica fan's collection. The main reason why I'm givin' it only three stars is the hit n' miss songs. Averaged them out and there you go. Some songs are five stars whereas others are, maybe, two stars. It was tough to really put a stars rating here when some songs rule and others bite. Is this album recommended? Well, maybe at $10-11 though not at $16 USD for us poor folks. This way you don't feel ripped off because of a few misses on it.